A Belgian Eccentric & Toby The CatFriday, February 05, 2010
I first met Doctor Peter Lekkas (above with Rebecca) about 10 years ago. We are both members of the Vancouver Rose Society. Lekkas has a delightful French accent and has been known to wear 19th century pith helmets. If you mention his accent as being French he will correct you, like that famous detective, “I am not French. I am Belgian.”
Today I asked him, “Have you ever been to Waterloo?” His answer was immediate and with a smile on his face he said, “My brother lives nearby and we have played in Waterloo many times.”
If Lekkas were British he would be considered an English eccentric. But since he is Belgian he is an excentric that drives a shiny red Citroën Deux Chevaux when he wants to drive. He bikes around town in most cases. I would never consider myself to be an eccentric as I am neither British nor Belgian but I must disclose that both Lekkas and I share a love and both own an unusual rose called Rosa ‘Ghislaine de Féligonde’.
Rosemary and I have two cats. One, 19 years old, is the male cat Toby. Toby is Rosemary’s cat. My cat, Plata is 11 and a female.
For some time I have known that the best cure for a dead cat is an instant new cat. Mosca, Rosemary’s black male cat died 6 years ago. At the time Rosemary was confined to her bed as she had had a brutal foot operation. I left Rosemary and Mosca in the morning. Both were watching Hitchcock’s Vertigo. When I returned some hours later the scene was the same. Mosca (right on the fridge) was at the foot of the bed asleep. Minutes later Rosemary screamed that Mosca was not moving and that he might be dead. I ran up and when I picked him up he was as stiff as a board. He had been dead for hours. Mosca’s replacement (after I broke my spade handle burying him in the garden) was a beautiful male tabby we called Niño. Within a month Niño died of cancer. Rosemary went to the SPCA in search of a male cat that would share our house with my female white, Polilla (moth in Spanish). We saw Toby and immediately fell for him. He was 14 years old so we decided not to. I returned a few months later and I spotted Plata a beautiful snow leopard like female. I noticed that Toby was still there. I brought Plata home. Plata and Polilla instantly began to fight. Polilla was defending her turf. Then one day I found Polilla outside, eviscerated by a raccoon. She was not a pretty sight. I buried her in the garden, and like clockwork I broke another spade handle.
Rebecca and I returned to the SPCA. When Rebecca saw Toby she said, “Papi we have to bring Toby home because if we don’t he will be euthanized. We brought Toby home. It didn’t take Rosemary long to fall in love with Toby and for Plata (Plata is in front in picture below with Toby) and Toby to get along just fine. The situation was idyllic.
It all changed when Toby developed a thyroid problem. Doctor Margie from Cats Only prescribed some special pills we have forced into Toby’s mouth twice a day. Toby stabilized. Doctor Margie retired. We needed a new vet. Where was I going to find a new vet that I liked that was personal?
To my delight I remembered that Lekkas was a veterinarian and that he had told me that he worked at the SPCA. We have been taking Toby to see him since.
So we talk cats and roses and of Wellington and Napoleon. It has been pleasant. Then Toby began to lose weight. When Lekkas saw him, two weeks ago, he determined that not only was there a problem with the thyroid but also with the kidneys (a normal situation with a cat of Toby’s age). He told us to inject Toby with water every two days as he was dehydrated. He told us to feed Toby as often as he wanted to eat.
Toby got worse. He pooped in our bedroom. He had always been a clean cat. He moved around as if he had feline dementia. Our daughter Hilary and granddaughter Rebecca said we should put him out of his misery. Hilary went as far as to tell her mother that she was selfish in wanting to keep the cat as he was.
On Tuesday when Rosemary arrived from school she was surprised to find Toby at home. “I thought he would no longer be here.” I told her that you simply did not go to the SPCA and tell them to put down the cat. “You need to make an appointment first.” I called and made the date to see Peter Lekkas today. I didn’t think Rosemary would want to come, after all she thought that Toby’s trip to the vet might just be a one way trip. I explained to Rosemary that Lekkas would tell us what to do. “ He didn’t, but he did one better. He helped us make a good decision. Indeed the decision was a Wellingtonian close run thing.
Lekkas looked at Toby and informed us he had lost a kilo in two weeks. But he also said, “Dr. Margie does not believe in euthanizing cats just like that. I don’t think Toby will be around in 6 months. You would be selfish if you wanted to get rid of a cat that is suddenly doing stuff on your carpets.”
With that kind, reassuring smile of his (a Belgian smile, perhaps?) we left for home with Toby. We were both at peace. When we arrived Toby was spunky and ate and ate. I injected him with water and I watched how he licked himself clean, a sure sign that Toby’s demise may not be immediately forthcoming.